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ALF Reviews: “Hungry Like the Wolf” (season 4, episode 22)

April 7th, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in alf

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

I have to say I’m surprised that the past two episodes have been varying degrees of good. Low degrees, but degrees of good all the same. I didn’t expect to find much at all to enjoy in these final five but, instead, I’m finding little to actively hate. It’d be foolish to say that ALF has hit its stride, but considering how little effort anyone put into this show to begin with, I’m kind of shocked to see the machine humming along this late in the game.

Fortunately, here’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” to reassure me that this show never had a chance to begin with.

It opens with a pretty dumbass scene, but we get some nice, silent acting from Anne Schedeen as she stops in the middle of putting groceries away, and has a premonition that something terrible is about to happen. Willie tells her otherwise, because apparently living with ALF for however many fucking years has somehow failed to teach him anything.

Then ALF comes in and…y’know, that’s a pretty good comic setup. It really is. Kate has a bad feeling, ALF struts immediately into the room…that’s nice. But the show botches it by having ALF do nothing, really. He just bitches about his weight.

We learn that Melmacians don’t gain weight the same way we do. They don’t get fat; they get dense. The weight they gain is internal, and their shapes don’t change to account for it. On the one hand, this is useful. (ALF mentions that their clothes always fit and, well, I’m only 35 and I can already see the appeal in that.) On the other hand, if they get too dense, they’ll implode and die.

And…

…that’s the cold open.

Hooray?

I mean, it’s nice to hear more about Melmacian physiology, and I like that we get an explanation as to why the puppet never gains or loses visible weight in spite of all the shit he eats. No, we don’t need an explanation, but I like that somebody wrote one.

But that’s it. Kate’s well-acted premonition gave way to ALF sitting on a chair and saying some shit nobody cares about.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

After the credits, Willie buttfucks ALF.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Mutually spent, they take a few minutes trying to remember what the episode was about.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Turns out it’s about dieting or something.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

ALF is miserable because they made him some healthy food. Ha ha! When you are on a diet, you can only eat salad, while everybody around you eats deep fried pizza and lard balls! ALF, you are in for it now!

So, yeah, ALF bitches about vegetables. The family bitches right back at him because he was the one who wanted to lose weight to begin with, but he says a bunch of crap about how dieting is bad for Melmacians. ALF says it can cause “an imbalance in my enzyme system that might make me revert back to my primal instincts.” It says a lot when the show’s writing is so poor that you can’t tell if the main character just told a bad lie, or if the writers wrote a bad script.

I guess it’s a promising idea that ALF’s diet may cause him to flip out and lose control, but we’ve already seen what a reversion to his primal instincts looks like in “Wild Thing.” I’ll jog your memory: he mows the lawn.

They go over this, like, fucking forever. By the time the scene is over, we’re eight minutes into the episode. They really were in no rush to do anything interesting, were they?

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

That night ALF exposes himself to some soda cans.

Willie and Kate catch him stealing food, so he pretends to sleepwalk. They scare him by saying there’s a cockroach on his shoulder, and my fucking god who CARES.

It’s another padded scene after however many other fucking padded scenes we’ve already had. This episode had no plot, and the crew decided to make it anyway. It’s literally just scenes of characters repeating the same things over and over in the hopes that the stage lights will eventually crash down and kill them.

At one point Willie grabs ALF and says, “Feet back! Spread ’em!” in case there wasn’t enough buttfucking for you already.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

He pulls a bunch of phallic things out of ALF’s trenchcoat, which would have qualified as a visual gag if they remembered to write the gag part. As it stands it’s just something that happens because the cameras are rolling and they might as well do fucking something.

ALF explains that if he doesn’t eat something soon, he’ll have to hunt and kill some food to replace his enzymes. Willie and Kate don’t buy it, and don’t even make any effort to hide Lucky II. Which…makes sense, actually. That cat’s been in hiding since it was introduced. I look forward to one of the Alien Task Force guys slipping on its fetid carcass as they move in to taze ALF.

Anyway, ALF starts growling and stuff, which is evidently his primal nature kicking in. This…is actually okay, since I’m more than happy to forget “Wild Thing” ever happened, and I’m all for a do-over with the concept. Here’s hoping this one is resolved by ALF ripping apart and gorging himself on a screaming Eric.

When this scene ends we’re 10 minutes into the episode. You know, if the writers keep this up, they might be able to go home without actually doing anything! That’d be an impressive low, even for them.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

The next morning, Brian comes in and asks for a recap of all the previous scenes in the episode, because he forgot them.

It sucks. It’s the same shit we’ve already heard, repeated yet a-fucking-gain because ALF had a half hour timeslot and only about 20 seconds of material.

ALF starts howling and you just know you’re getting a good screengrab next.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Yeah, so, ALF’s going apeshit in the back yard. And by that I mean he has a bone in his hair and is holding some twigs.

Why is he doing this? Well, Willie’s on hand to remind us of all the shit about Melmacians and crash diets and enzyme balances that we’ve been hearing about continuously since the episode started and literally could not have possibly forgotten by now. I imagine the script had a lot of instances of the word REFRAIN.

ALF calls himself Wolf now, so that the episode’s title can make a lick of sense.

I love it when they force a name into the show just so they can use a specific song as its title — which nobody outside of self-loathing ALF reviewers will ever even see. They did it in “Keepin’ the Faith” and “We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert,” too. Fun fact: those episodes are also fucking garbage.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie, being Willie, says ain’t no Willie got time for this and tells his wife to deal with it herself.

Seriously. He does. She protests and sincerely asks him not to leave her alone with a crazed, dangerous, potentially homicidal alien. He replies, dickishly, “Let me call the office and say I won’t be in today because my alien’s diet has made him a warrior-hunter.”

No, fuckbag, call the office and say you’re sick. Help your fucking wife. Don’t leave her to the whims of ALF’s psychosis, especially when that little asshole is so violent and destructive even on his best days. Nobody here knows what to expect from the alien in this state, and Willie is perfectly content to come home to his wife’s mangled body on the living room floor.

Anyone want to try defending this dickass again?

Willie wishes his family luck in Heaven or Hell or wherever they wake up, and Lynn, being Lynn, steps up and says, “I’ll stay home with you, mom.”

I’m glad you exist, Lynn. I’ll be even gladder if you help your mother move out while her deadbeat husband pretends to have a late night at the office.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Uh, Kate? I love you and all, but I don’t think that’s the way you hold a baby.

Anyway, Willie comes home, at least moderately disappointed to find his family alive, because now they want his help. (Women, eh?!) Lynn talks about how crazily ALF has been behaving, and Kate tells him, flatly, that she’s frightened.

Willie’s response: he stands up, walks away, and spits, “Why do you automatically assume that I have the answers for these questions?!”

Ass.

Hole.

They’re telling you that their lives are in danger and they’re scared. They aren’t asking for answers; they’re asking for help. We were supposed to believe last week that Willie cared deeply about leaving a clean world to his children, but now he makes it explicitly clear that he doesn’t even care if they are safe in their own home.

DO SOMETHING FUCKBAG

Then the car starts and ALF stole it or whatever so Max Wright does this:

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Jesus Christ this guy is awful.

After the commercial, the family exposits that they’ve been out looking for ALF and have found nothing. Then the phone rings and it’s some cop saying Willie’s car was found in Griffith Park, which is indeed a real park in LA. Kate seems to know it well, so that may provide some clue as to where the Tanners actually live in this massive city. (It doesn’t help me any, as I’ve never been there, but to someone with experience perhaps this is a nice detail?)

Kate says that the park could be very dangerous to ALF, which causes her husband to do this because he’s a cunt:

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

He’s pissed off because Kate showed concern for ALF’s safety, and in Willie’s mind I guess that means she can’t possibly have any concern for him as well. He says, “How silly of me to think of myself, just this once.”

And, man, what the living shit is this guy’s problem? He’s constantly an asshole to people who have nothing to do with his actual problems. In fact, Kate offers to go with him to the park and help with ALF…the exact opposite of what Willie did earlier in the day, when he made a big show of leaving his wife to deal with it alone.

You know.

When he was thinking of himself.

“Just this once” my hairy asshole. I’d be hard pressed to think of a time you were thinking of anybody but yourself.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

In the park Willie finds a hobo, so they give each other blowjobs for a bit, secure in the knowledge that nobody will ever find the tape they recorded for some fucking reason. The show doesn’t tell us who this guy is, but adhering to ALF‘s template for naming the homeless I’m going to call him Gaggy Tad.

Willie stands around gabbing with G.T. for a while, and then mentions that his life went to hell “Four years ago. September.” Which puts ALF back on our timeline (the pilot did indeed air four years prior to this episode, in September) even though this season’s done everything in its power to wrest it into a timeline of its own.

So who knows how much fucking time has passed since ALF crashed into their garage. Also, why the absolute shit do I care?

I may as well mention that this is Jeff Doucette, who looked familiar though I couldn’t place him. (Could it be his unforgettable turn on Dog with a Blog?) Turns out he was in a bunch of episodes of Newhart, which is probably why I know his face, and that’s yet another connection between this show and Bob’s work. (You’re always going on about Bob Newhart. Let it go, Paul; you’re never going to meet him.)

Gaggy Tad says he thinks he saw “the little guy from Fantasy Island” in the park, referring to HervĂ© Villechaize.

Willie knows it’s actually ALF, though, and he says something I’ve listened to six times now and I still don’t know what the fuck it is. It sounds like, “He must be very bither.” Like, to rhyme with “wither.”

Is that some kind of Fantasy Island reference? Unless they say “De plane, boss!!” or ALF shoots himself in the head, any Fantasy Island reference will be lost on me.

Oh, the joys of having Max Wright deliver your lines. The audience will never know if it’s a joke they don’t get, or a shitty performance he refused to re-shoot.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie finds ALF about to disembowel and feast upon a poodle. You know…in case you didn’t hate these guys enough already.

I have to admit I’m…well, not impressed, exactly. But I’m intrigued by the fact that he was stalking a dog and not a cat. I guess the character change in “Live and Let Die” really did stick. Interesting. I still have no idea why they did it, but unless the next two episodes make a fool out of me, it looks ALF’s change of heart about eating felines was a deliberate and permanent one.

Pretty neat. It’s the nearest thing to actual development we’ve had for this character. It says a lot that it runs no deeper than what he does or doesn’t put in his stomach, but with this show you need to take what you can get.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Willie tells ALF to eat a fucking candy bar already. This gets a nonsensical crack about the Twinkie defense out of ALF, in a shameless pander to viewers who wondered why sitcoms weren’t making more jokes about the murder of Harvey Milk.

Anyway, ALF runs off, Willie screams, “Wolf!” for a while, Gaggy Tad comes back to do some observational hobo standup, and then ALF is cured and the episode ends.

I guess I shouldn’t have expected much more from an episode that wasn’t about anything to begin with, but somehow I was still disappointed by how careless this whole thing felt.

Honestly, if I’d found out that “Hungry Like the Wolf” was improvised, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It’s fucking horrible, just like everything that’s improvised. Write a script, you lazy shits.

ALF, "Hungry Like the Wolf"

In the short scene before the credits, Kate shoos some black people off her doorstep.

Actually they came to get their poodle, I guess, but I have no fucking idea what happens after that. Kate closes the door, the black ladies start screaming in distress, and there’s the sound of a loud car horn. So…the dog got hit by a car? One of the people got hit by a car? Nobody got hit by a car? I have no clue, but whatever it is they’re clearly screaming for help.

Willie says, “Don’t open the door” when his wife shows concern, and that’s…it.

What the cunting god damned hell was that?

Tell me again what a great guy Willie is. Tell me again what an excellent social worker he is. Somebody is potentially dying in front of his house and he refuses not only to check on them, or to help them, but to call somebody else who would help them.

This…what is this?

What the actual fuck is this?

ALF comes back in and says he doesn’t give a shit about dieting anymore, which seems like something that probably shouldn’t matter what with somebody’s dog or mother or daughter lying dead in the street.

Fuck. This. Show.

Countdown to ALF being hunted and gathered in front of the Tanners: 2 episodes

MELMAC FACTS: ALF’s grandparents died from physical implosion, and he had to wet-vac them off the carpet. Melmacians only gain weight internally, and will collapse if they eat too much.

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8 Responses

  • Mark Moore says:

    This episode sounds awful.

    Did the Tanner actors know at this point that they wouldn’t be returning next season if there was one?

  • Griffith Park is massive. It’s like LA’s version of Central Park, partially wooded with a small zoo and multiple attractions. I’m surprised they found Willie’s car that quickly.
    Most interesting to me, however, is the idea of gaining density. Imagine how things would change if humans worked that way. We have huge industries built around the idea that one must be skinny or built to be attractive. Diet supplements, protein powders, vanity sizing, arguments of how little one must be to be a model, or how a certain model is now TOO skinny, as well as anorexia and bulimia being used to attain a smaller size. None of those things would exist on Melmac, and the only way that anyone else would know is if you imploded, or if they were standing next to you when you stepped on a scale.

  • Casey says:

    I can’t help but wonder what Fusco thought this episode accomplished, other than conveying two Melmac facts and taking up 22 minutes of airtime. I know this was the era of “sunburns” as a plot, but this one seems to have “ALF dressed as a caveman” as its point of origin.

  • kim says:

    sorry I’m so late in reading your review, I have been really busy this past week, but here I am better late then never I guess. yeah, to me this just another one of those silly episodes to make ALF be in a silly getup, to me is not that bad, it’s no great by any means, but not as bad as some the other episodes in season 4. i do have to admit willie is particularly mean in this episode and i don’t fully understand it either. i guess willie is really tired of ALF’s shit and tired of his family always coming to him to solve ALF’s problems, but then again this really is a serious situation where ALF could actually hurt someone, so he should be a lot more concerned about it.

    I rewatched this episode again to see if the part at the end where the black mother and daughter get their dog to see if the whole thing of them screaming and car horn honking exists and it does and the nearest i can figure it is part of a joke to what kate said earlier “we’re just glad we able to return him before anything life shattering could happen.” so the dog really did get run over by a car? O.O okay, i never realized this before but that is messed up. i don’t care how dark and twisted of a comedian you are, that is really messed up. and the fact willie tells his family to not open the door and just ignore it is even more messed up. a little girl could be sitting in the street crying with her dead dog beside her and they are suppose to act like it didn’t happen. I question the mentally of this show now.

    and I looked up Griffith park just to find where it is and it is right next to the burbank area of LA, so the that could be where the tanners live, but I do remember it being mentioned in a episode they lived in san fernando area which is quite a distance from the park. ALF could of drove there with the car, but would have to get on a pretty major roadway to get there, but again how ALF could get there in his crazed primitive state without being seen by people is beyond me.

    • Philip J Reed says:

      “I question the mentally of this show now.”

      Balloons fell from the ceiling the moment I read that.

      Thanks for trying to parse that ending with me. It was…weird, even by ALF standards. (And grossly inhuman, even by Willie standards.) Speaking of which, I sort of love that ALF navigating major roads in a crazed, primitive state doesn’t even get a raised eyebrow from me anymore. That’s just the way this show works…

      • kim says:

        lol. don’t celebrate too hard yet, i still like this show, but in this just one instance i question why? why did they have to end this episode that way with something so assuming morbid as a dog or a person getting run over by a car? i mean i get the joke, it’s the opposite of not wanting something to happen does happen and in some other context that could of worked, but for it to come out of nowhere here is just so dam weird.

  • Philip J Reed says:

    The whole thing with Willie leaving his wife and kids to deal with ALF gets increasingly bothersome to me the more that I think about it, just from a narrative standpoint. Why bother shuffling him off to work at all? We skip over his entire workday; he’s back in the very next scene. So what was the point of him leaving?

    It’d be one thing if the episode was actually about Kate and Lynn trying to wrangle a crazed alien…I’d understand having to get Willie out of the situation, no matter how gracelessly. But he doesn’t need to be out of the situation at all. In fact, he needs to be IN it, which is why literally nothing happens while he’s away.

    It’s a first draft, Philip, you know this. Let it go…



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